dNovo's novel baldness treatment takes a direct route to hair regrowth
A new player has entered the hair loss scene promising a new form of treatment that takes a more efficient approach to regenerating lost follicles. Like many solutions in the space, dNovo's technology uses hair stem cells to replace cells lost through aging and male pattern baldness, but takes a more direct route to their production by skipping a common step in the cell reprogramming process.
Stem cells finds themselves at the heart of a lot of promising baldness treatments, with scientists demonstrating how dormant ones can be activated to promote hair growth, how making them more sticky can have similar effects and what the ideal conditions are for their development. A common and promising approach seeks to use induced pluripotent stem cells, which can be converted into epithelial stem cells normally found at the bulge of hair follicles.
The proprietary technology under development by dNovo is described as a direct reprogramming system, and seeks to convert a person's skin, blood, or fat cells directly into hair stem cells, completely skipping the intermediate pluripotent state. The company has demonstrated this approach in mouse models of baldness, which went on to sprout new hair after three weeks and had maintained it seven months later.
“Direct reprogramming technology does not rely on generating pluripotent cells but instead directly converts one cell type into another (for example, in our case, skin cells to hair stem cells)," said Dr. Ernesto Lujan, founder and CEO of dNovo. "This makes our system quick and scalable. We are further optimizing our technology platform, and look forward to working with potential partners to bring our reprogramming system to the next stage.”
The startup considers its results so far to be a demonstration of the feasibility of its approach, and there are others who believe it has great potential. Upon emerging from stealth mode last month, dNovo announced US$2.7 million in seed funding from Y Combinator and Felicis Ventures, among others, to continue developing its technology.
“We are very excited by dNovo’s early results,” said Niki Pezeshki, General Partner at Felicis Ventures. “Hair loss is one of the medical challenges that affects millions of people every year, but most current solutions only focus on slowing down hair loss. With dNovo, we see a fundamentally different approach to treatment as dNovo is actually regenerating new hair stem cells. This has the potential to become a real cure for hair loss.”